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#1777055 - 10/25/11 05:32 PM Keyboard Speakers: EV, QSC, JBL
jazzwee Offline
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Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7061
Loc: So. California
I need some better speakers for my keyboard. Gigging in smaller venues (150) and jazz oriented. I currently have a Stagepas 300 and the FP7F Piano sounds tinny on it. Could be I'm pushing it past what it can handle. So I'm considering a pair of new speakers.

I've heard of the following powered speakers (Thanks Dave Ferris):

ElectroVoice SXA1
QSC K10
JBL PRX12

So what's the verdict on these? I haven't heard any of these so I'm buying blind. All I know is that the EV SXA1 is reasonably priced.
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#1777114 - 10/25/11 06:52 PM Re: Keyboard Speakers: EV, QSC, JBL [Re: jazzwee]
anotherscott Offline
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Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3182
For piano, I think the EV ZXA1 sounds better than QSC, but won't play as loud. The only JBL I've heard in that series is the PRX625, which I like even better, but it is a lot more expensive, bigger, and heavier than the EV. Though if you can deal with the size, it's nice to just be able to use it without having to bother with speaker stands.

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#1777159 - 10/25/11 08:06 PM Re: Keyboard Speakers: EV, QSC, JBL [Re: jazzwee]
jazzwee Offline
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Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7061
Loc: So. California
AnotherScott, well that's good to hear because the EV ZXA1 is a lot cheaper (half price) of the other cabs. I'm using a Stagepas 300 now and the volume itself is good enough. I have the keyboard volume at max. The Stagepas still has headroom for vocals.

But the Stagepas sounds really tinny at the venue.

I presume the EV ZXA1 would be lots lounder than the current Stagepas 300 I have. So it could be good enough.

I see a lot people swear by those QSC's (K10, K12) and bring only one.
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#1777288 - 10/26/11 02:11 AM Re: Keyboard Speakers: EV, QSC, JBL [Re: jazzwee]
Dr Popper Offline
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Registered: 12/30/09
Posts: 1718
Loc: Hancock Park LA (not again)
2 x QSCK10's will do it
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#1777314 - 10/26/11 04:47 AM Re: Keyboard Speakers: EV, QSC, JBL [Re: jazzwee]
jazzwee Offline
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Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7061
Loc: So. California
How about a Mackie Thump? Where does that fit in the group?
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#1777316 - 10/26/11 04:52 AM Re: Keyboard Speakers: EV, QSC, JBL [Re: jazzwee]
jazzwee Offline
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Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7061
Loc: So. California
Maybe I need to rephrase my question.

If you were going to give advice to someone buying a primary amp/speaker combo for use by the keyboardist and maybe vocals in a jazz group, and the buyer has no chance of hearing these? What would you suggest that he buy - sight unseen and unheard. Venues are smallish (150 people).

Primary concern - that the piano sounds good.

Budget $1K or Less.
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#1777335 - 10/26/11 06:24 AM Re: Keyboard Speakers: EV, QSC, JBL [Re: jazzwee]
thomsurf Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/01/10
Posts: 153
Loc: Copenhagen, Denmark
IMO the EV's are too small for 150 people gig.

After seaching and reading countless posts on this issue, these are the speakers I would check out:

QSC K10
RCF 410
JBL PRX 612M

All three are high quality but with different characteristics. You won't get anyone on this forum to agree on one speaker wink
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#1777342 - 10/26/11 06:45 AM Re: Keyboard Speakers: EV, QSC, JBL [Re: jazzwee]
jazzwee Offline
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Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7061
Loc: So. California
I wish I understood some of these speaker specs. I am using a Stagepas 300 which I presume has less power than the EV ZXA1's.

The volume of the Stagepas 300 is fine but the piano sound gets tinny.

Or let me restate that. At the default gain, of my keyboard, I have it at max volume. However, once I adjust the "Master Gain" on the Fp7F, then I have more headroom. But that has nothing to do with the quality of the piano sound which deteriorates seriously at max volume.

After reading a lot, I heard that for piano sounds the EV ZXA1 was superior to the QSC K10/K12's. That would be 90% of my use, with an occasional EP sound.

Perhaps someone with an EV ZXA1, or QSC can talk about volume? (largest Venue they would use it for -- assuming piano sound).

Stagepas 300 Maximum Output Level 112db (1m)
Stagepas 500: Maximum Output Level 116 dB (1 m)
EV ZXA1: Max SPL 123db
QSC K8: Max SPL 127db Peak
QSC K10: Max SPL 129db Peak

I don't know if these refer to the same things. But if it is, it indicates that starting with the ZXA1, the volume is significantly louder than the Stagepas (either).

But the big negative on the QSC's is weight. Unless I buy only 1 (mono).


Edited by jazzwee (10/26/11 06:52 AM)
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#1777371 - 10/26/11 08:22 AM Re: Keyboard Speakers: EV, QSC, JBL [Re: jazzwee]
knotty Offline
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Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 2993
Loc: Bethesda, MD (Washington D.C)
it's not so much how many people but where you play. If you play in a really high ceiling room or outside, you'll need a lot of power for 20 people. If you play in a small, low room, then you won't be able to blast that much even for 150.
that said, if you play outside, then no matter what, you'll need monitors.

I have those JBLs and I can tell you that it's very very good quality for the price, and it's a lot of power. At 30%, you will easily blow away any acoustic drummer. Past a certain volume and venue, you'll need a lot of equipment.

But check out how flat these respond frequency-wise. Usually, the larger speakers respond better. Some will have "holes" in the freq. response and that will cause some of your notes to sound slightly odd.

The good news about the 3 models you link, is that I am pretty sure they have them at guitar center. So it's easy to get a good idea.

Note that these very nice speakers attached to low end pre-amps will give you an ugly white noise, and attached to cheap cables, will give you an ugly buzz.

Finally, it's possible that your problem is not in the speakers at all. It can be where they are, it can be your keyboard config, it can be a lot of things. If you knew a friend in the area with good speakers, I'd try to setup in a typical configuration and see if that makes a difference.

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#1777390 - 10/26/11 08:49 AM Re: Keyboard Speakers: EV, QSC, JBL [Re: jazzwee]
Dr Popper Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/09
Posts: 1718
Loc: Hancock Park LA (not again)


Originally Posted By: jazzwee
Maybe I need to rephrase my question.

If you were going to give advice to someone buying a primary amp/speaker combo for use by the keyboardist and maybe vocals in a jazz group, and the buyer has no chance of hearing these? What would you suggest that he buy - sight unseen and unheard. Venues are smallish (150 people).

Primary concern - that the piano sounds good.

Budget $1K or Less.



Motion Sound KP500SN ....
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Disclosure : I am professionally supported by but not beholden to various musical instrument manufactures including Yamaha

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#1777391 - 10/26/11 08:53 AM Re: Keyboard Speakers: EV, QSC, JBL [Re: jazzwee]
anotherscott Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3182
Originally Posted By: jazzwee
The volume of the Stagepas 300 is fine but the piano sound gets tinny.
...
the quality of the piano sound...deteriorates seriously at max volume.

The fact that the quality of the sound deteriorates at high volume means that the volume of the Stagepas 300 is not fine. It sounds like you are pushing it beyond its volume limits, and so you are hearing the results of distortion (from trying to get more out of it than its capable of) and/or limiting circuitry (which alters the sound as the amp tries to prevent you from damaging the speaker). If it sounds fine at low levels, then your problem probably actually is that it does not go loud enough.

Originally Posted By: jazzwee
Stagepas 300 Maximum Output Level 112db (1m)
Stagepas 500: Maximum Output Level 116 dB (1 m)
EV ZXA1: Max SPL 123db
QSC K8: Max SPL 127db Peak
QSC K10: Max SPL 129db Peak

I don't know if these refer to the same things.

They do, at least in theory. Sometimes a manufacturer will use a different method to measure something, but usually these figures from major manufacturers are pretty comparable.

Another spec to look at, in terms of how full the bottom will be, is what the low end of the frequency response is. It is important to look at how much fall off they quote (in dB), not just how low they can go (in Hz). The EV is 3 dB down at 60 Hz, 10 dB down at 48 Hz. The K8 is 6 dB down at 66 Hz, and 10 dB down at 61 Hz; the K10 is 6 dB down at 60 Hz and 10 dB down at 56, so the EV actually has better low end.

The lowest note on an 88 key piano is about 28 Hz. Of course you'll still hear the note if the speaker doesn't go that far down, but you will be hearing overtones, with little if any of the fundamental. So the deeper a speaker can go, the closer you can get to having those notes sound full and natural as they do on an acoustic. Though if you're playing live with a band, piano players often EQ some bottom out anyway, so as not to step on the bass player.

Originally Posted By: jazzwee
But the big negative on the QSC's is weight. Unless I buy only 1 (mono).

One higher quality speaker always sounds better than two lower quality speakers. ;-) Really, in most cases, I think mono is fine. In most venues, only a small portion of the audience gets any stereo effect anyway. Though two speakers (even in mono) does give you more spread/coverage. I would go with quality... buy one good speaker, and you can always add a second later. BTW, two speakers adds 3 dB to the volume. So a pair of EV speakers will go to 126 dB instead of 123. That's only 1 dB below a single K8, which would hardly be noticeable, and you'd have better bass, better sound quality for piano overall, and the spread of a stereo pair (whether you run stereo or not). So you could certainly start with on EV, and if you want more volume, buy the second.

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#1777463 - 10/26/11 11:51 AM Re: Keyboard Speakers: EV, QSC, JBL [Re: anotherscott]
Dave Ferris Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/07
Posts: 1731
Loc: Glendale, Ca.
Unfortunately the only way you're going to be able to decide JW is by checking them out with your FP7. A certain speaker could sound better or worse with a Yamaha , Nord or Kawai DP. Again it's not so much about volume but tonal quality. A lot of these plastic boxes are hyped in the high end and the horn can sound honky for piano. So something that sounds good for vocals won't necessarily be perfect for piano. I ran into this when checking out the RCF 722A.

Another speaker not mentioned is the older EV SXA360. I used them for a couple of years, I know Jazz + used to use them on his FP4. Even though they're older they still sound better then the QSCs for piano imo. I think EV is still making them. Last time I checked you could get a pair for just under $1200.

You need to find a local GC or whatever store that has all this stuff in stock AND will let you audition with YOUR keyboard OR will allow an exchange after a few days. Otherwise you can buy from a place like this where they do returns except you have to pay shipping back:
http://www.rmcaudiodirect.com/Live-Sound-s/6.htm
Erik is the guy to talk to there, he's pretty knowledgeable about speakers. But he still can't tell you which one is best for piano.

You're more then welcome to check out my TT08As but I think they are out of your price range. Also I hate to say it, but you get what you pay for in speakers. 1K is a pretty modest budget...but maybe the EV ZXA1s will be fine for you. Just be sure you find someone who will exchange them though if not.

edit-also what knotty said about the mixer is true. Don't put that crappy Behringer mixer in the chain. At just under $300 the Allen Heath ZED10fX is a no brainer. Read the reviews on line, for what it is and the price, this thing's great. I like it better then my Mackie 1202 VLZ which I used for years. In any case, I'd take the Mackie over the Behringer.

One more thing-mono is fine for Rock and other higher volume scenarios, and probably preferable to stereo. But for more quiet music like Jazz or Classical, stereo to me is the only way to go. I think if you heard mono your reaction would be--ughh !


Edited by Dave Ferris (10/26/11 12:22 PM)
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#1777502 - 10/26/11 01:02 PM Re: Keyboard Speakers: EV, QSC, JBL [Re: jazzwee]
jazzwee Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7061
Loc: So. California
Lots to think about here. I have a disability right now that prevents me from walking to Guitar Center. I've done several gigs with my sons acting as roadies since I can only sit at the keys and start playing. So that's why the "sight-unseen-unheard" situation.

AnotherScott, you have an EV ZXA1, right? Do you have 1 or 2? What's the largest venue you've used it at and what's your sense of how far it can go?

What confuses me about the Stagepas 300 is that the vocals are really clear and there's tons of headroom on it. Perhaps vocals have a narrow frequency range?

Dave, if I go with the more expensive QSC, I could start with 1 and get another one later. I can get two EV's now since that's in my budget. Talking mono vs. stereo though, the way I have it set up, I have one speaker in front of my keyboard on the floor and another one pulled slightly back so I can hear myself. So I'm not hearing stereo anyway. The audience certainly isn't hearing stereo since the speakers are just under the keys. But the issue is this phase cancellation thing. I'll have to try the keyboard with my current PA in mono and see if it's an issue.

In general listening to a DP is frustrating. It's just so darn far from the sound of a grand that we try to compensate with the fancy equipment. I don't have the expectation that it will sound 'real'. If anything, I just want it warm, rounded and works reasonably in a mix.

The popular choices, from what I read seem to be the EV ZXA1 and the QSC K10, K12's (K8 not able to function as a monitor). JBL's, not as many comments nor of a specific model so hard to gauge here.

If I do this, I'll have to just order on-line, try it out and if it doesn't sound good return it.
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#1777503 - 10/26/11 01:04 PM Re: Keyboard Speakers: EV, QSC, JBL [Re: Dr Popper]
jazzwee Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7061
Loc: So. California
Originally Posted By: Dr Popper


Motion Sound KP500SN ....


Ok, I'll compare specs with the other ones I have listed. Do you have this? Is it good for Piano?
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#1777506 - 10/26/11 01:09 PM Re: Keyboard Speakers: EV, QSC, JBL [Re: jazzwee]
jazzwee Offline
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Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7061
Loc: So. California
BTW - I've noticed that pros have a strong dislike for "Keyboard" amps. I just googled Motion Sound and it belongs in that category. I read about everyone's dislike for the Roland KC, Traynor, etc. I didn't know this so initially, I googled Keyboard amps and then no one recommends them...

Clearly the throng biases towards the cleaner sound of the PA's?
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#1777519 - 10/26/11 01:23 PM Re: Keyboard Speakers: EV, QSC, JBL [Re: jazzwee]
jazzwee Offline
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Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7061
Loc: So. California
BTW Dave F.-- thanks for raising my "acoustic" standards. As the quality of the gigs improve, I guess the equipment must go up too. But this is negative cash flow...With gigs as sparse as they are (and the bucks way down), does it pay to invest so much?
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#1777563 - 10/26/11 02:37 PM Re: Keyboard Speakers: EV, QSC, JBL [Re: jazzwee]
Dave Ferris Offline
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Registered: 03/12/07
Posts: 1731
Loc: Glendale, Ca.
I would start with the ZXA1s and the A&H ZED10. See if it's "loud enough" and go from there. Total outlay would be around $1100.
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#1777589 - 10/26/11 03:17 PM Re: Keyboard Speakers: EV, QSC, JBL [Re: jazzwee]
jazzwee Offline
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Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7061
Loc: So. California
Sounds like a plan Dave. In fact, I'm thinking I should order a single EV ZXA1 first. I don't want to go full guns ablaze if it doesn't work out. Then if it sounds good, I'll get a second one.

I'm guessing anything louder than the Stagepas 300 should be ok.
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#1777671 - 10/26/11 05:15 PM Re: Keyboard Speakers: EV, QSC, JBL [Re: jazzwee]
jazzwee Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7061
Loc: So. California
Just tested out the FP7F on mono on my Studio monitors. No phasiness. Sounds pretty good in mono, actually. I know my previous Yamahas didn't sound good in mono. I think the stereo is pretty subtle on this board. I remember on some Yamahas where the bass was heavily on the left and the treble was heavy on the right. Not realistic since we don't hear it that way on a grand. Maybe an upright since you're closer to the strings...
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#1777690 - 10/26/11 05:41 PM Re: Keyboard Speakers: EV, QSC, JBL [Re: jazzwee]
anotherscott Offline
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Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3182
Originally Posted By: jazzwee
AnotherScott, you have an EV ZXA1, right? Do you have 1 or 2? What's the largest venue you've used it at and what's your sense of how far it can go?

I use one. Largest venue has been outdoors, but we didn't have to cover a very large area or play very loud. Sometimes I use it mostly as my monitor, and also put some keys into the mains. Very often, the bands mains are a pair of ZXA1... in that case, they are mostly just covering the vocals. Sometimes a brass instrument or two. I wouldn't mic up drums through them, they do have their limits! Maybe that's a good way to put it... if you're in a venue where you don't have to mic up the drums, the EV is probably fine. If you have to mic up the drums, you probably want more than the EV. Though again, if you have mains that are handling drums, they can probably handle keys too, so you'd still be okay just using the EV as a monitor.

Originally Posted By: jazzwee
What confuses me about the Stagepas 300 is that the vocals are really clear and there's tons of headroom on it. Perhaps vocals have a narrow frequency range?

Yes, vocals are less demanding of speakers than keyboards are, for a variety of reasons.

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#1777700 - 10/26/11 05:51 PM Re: Keyboard Speakers: EV, QSC, JBL [Re: jazzwee]
jazzwee Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7061
Loc: So. California
Well then AnotherScott, that seals the deal.

I don't ever need to mic the drums and the loudest instrument in the band is the sax or the trumpet. What I'm thinking of doing (to keep things light), is to keep the Stagepas 300 with ONE speaker for vocals. I shared the PA with the vocalist and that bugged me a little because the sound isn't proportional and it was hard to hear myself. Since a mic is mono, no need to carry two.

I didn't realize BTW until you mentioned it, that adding a second speaker doesn't increase the volume by that much.

I should test this theory by recording with one speaker and then two, to see if it makes that much difference.
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#1777710 - 10/26/11 05:58 PM Re: Keyboard Speakers: EV, QSC, JBL [Re: jazzwee]
anotherscott Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3182
Originally Posted By: jazzwee
I didn't realize BTW until you mentioned it, that adding a second speaker doesn't increase the volume by that much.

3 dB is still a noticeable amount.

Easy example... run a mono recording into your stereo, and notice the difference when you unplug one of the speakers and then plug it in again. (You get the same amount of relative difference regardless of whether you do this test at quiet or loud volumes.)

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#1777711 - 10/26/11 06:03 PM Re: Keyboard Speakers: EV, QSC, JBL [Re: jazzwee]
jazzwee Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7061
Loc: So. California
The problem is that I have no sense of what 3db is. Or how it is perceived. Is it linear?

If you put the volume at 50%, does 123db peak become 61-62db? In which case 3db is what, a tiny little notch on the volume? Or is this logarithmic? Sorry, but I don't know anything.

I just play piano...(mostly the real one).
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#1777714 - 10/26/11 06:09 PM Re: Keyboard Speakers: EV, QSC, JBL [Re: jazzwee]
MacMacMac Offline
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Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3799
Loc: North Carolina
The decibel scale is logarithmic.
3 dB represents a 2-to-1 ratio in sound.
But perception is non-linear.

An increase (or decrease) of 1 dB is barely noticeable under even the best conditions.
An change of 2 dB is barely noticeable.
An change of 3 dB is noticeable.
A 10 dB change represents a perceived difference of 2-to-1.

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#1777717 - 10/26/11 06:11 PM Re: Keyboard Speakers: EV, QSC, JBL [Re: jazzwee]
anotherscott Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3182
decibels are logarithmic, not linear. That's why I said the example I gave works regardless of whether you're listening quietly or blasting it. The difference of the second speaker (adding 3 dB) is not an absolute amount, but it's always easily discernible relative to the sound of one speaker (which would be 3 dB quieter). The difference in "total air moved" between 3 db and 6 db is much smaller than the difference between 103 dB and 106 dB, but the relative difference is the same.

As for your volume control example, if the control is actually calibrated to wattage delivered, then if full-up is your maximum 123 dB, then if bring the volume to 50% and actually cut the power in half, you will reduce that to 120 dB. It takes double the power to get 3 more dB. That is why a second speaker--double the power--gets you 3 more dB.

(edit: as I say in a later post, the volume control I'm talking about there is a theoretical knob... real knobs aren't generally calibrated to wattage.)


Edited by anotherscott (10/26/11 06:43 PM)

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#1777718 - 10/26/11 06:14 PM Re: Keyboard Speakers: EV, QSC, JBL [Re: jazzwee]
jazzwee Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7061
Loc: So. California
So MMM, if I'm at 100db max and I move the volume knob to 50%, that's only a 3db drop?

There's something I'm missing here since I would imagine that moving the volume knob to off = 0db.

Also when I think logarithmic I'm not thinking a constant 3db. At least in my mind I'm thinking geometric like
3 6 12 24 48 96


Edited by jazzwee (10/26/11 06:17 PM)
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#1777721 - 10/26/11 06:19 PM Re: Keyboard Speakers: EV, QSC, JBL [Re: MacMacMac]
anotherscott Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3182
Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
A 10 dB change represents a perceived difference of 2-to-1.

This is often quoted, but I have not found any reliable source for this; or even that there is general agreement among people that a certain level is subjectively equal to "twice as loud" (perceived difference of 2 to 1), which is an issue apart from what dB change would be required to achieve it if there was indeed a consensus. If anyone has any real sources for this, feel free to chime in.

But nitpicking aside, you're right... 3 dB = twice the power, but the difference, while noticeable, may not be as dramatic as one might expect from a power doubling.

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#1777723 - 10/26/11 06:20 PM Re: Keyboard Speakers: EV, QSC, JBL [Re: jazzwee]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: jazzwee
BTW - I've noticed that pros have a strong dislike for "Keyboard" amps. I just googled Motion Sound and it belongs in that category. I read about everyone's dislike for the Roland KC, Traynor, etc. I didn't know this so initially, I googled Keyboard amps and then no one recommends them...

Clearly the throng biases towards the cleaner sound of the PA's?


I think this applies if you intend to play acoustic piano tones with the DP.

If you play EP sounds (like the Rhodes) then I think opinion goes the other way and nothing will beat a Guitar amp and the KB amps are not bad. But I know first hand that acoustic piano patches sound full-on horrible through a guitar amp. You want "perfect clean" for that

If cost is a factor the usual options are used gear or build it yourself. It is actually easy to build good passive PA speakers and then you buy some of those cheap 500W Crane class D amps.

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#1777734 - 10/26/11 06:31 PM Re: Keyboard Speakers: EV, QSC, JBL [Re: anotherscott]
jazzwee Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7061
Loc: So. California
Originally Posted By: anotherscott
Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
A 10 dB change represents a perceived difference of 2-to-1.

This is often quoted, but I have not found any reliable source for this; or even that there is general agreement among people that a certain level is subjectively equal to "twice as loud" (perceived difference of 2 to 1), which is an issue apart from what dB change would be required to achieve it if there was indeed a consensus. If anyone has any real sources for this, feel free to chime in.

But nitpicking aside, you're right... 3 dB = twice the power, but the difference, while noticeable, may not be as dramatic as one might expect from a power doubling.


Of course the "power" aspect is probably not relevant. Just as an example, since the Stagepas 300 is at 113db and the Ev is at 123db, then I figure it would be equivalent to THREE notch move on the volume knob where each notch is "some" noticeable reduction in sound?

If so that would be a significant increase in the volume (from where I'm at). But adding another EV SKA1, is only adding a slight increase in perceived loudness (one notch move based on the above).
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#1777735 - 10/26/11 06:31 PM Re: Keyboard Speakers: EV, QSC, JBL [Re: jazzwee]
jazzwee Offline
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Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7061
Loc: So. California
I'm curious, AnotherScott, when you're running the EV ZXA1, I presume you're not at max volume? So there's still some headroom?
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